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Guest Columnist: Dr. Missy, Feelings Helper

School “hotspots” for bullying

 

Bullying in the school environment often happens out of sight from the school staff in bathrooms, hallways, bus, cafeteria or playground. What can be done about these “hotspot” areas?

 

What can Parents do?

 

Talk to the principal, school counselor, teachers, your child’s bus driver, and superintendent, about bully zones. Discuss the situation and solutions with your local Parent Teacher Association (PTA). Talk to other parents.

 

Teach your children the anti-bully buddy system. Students can pair up with friends in these “hotspot” places. Dialogue with your children about the bully zones.

 

What can School’s do?

 

“Teachers and administrators need to be aware that although bullying generally happens in areas such as the bathroom, playground, crowded hallways, and school buses as well as via cell phones and computers (where supervision is limited or absent), it must be taken seriously,” according to the American Psychological Association (APA).

 

How can schools better monitor the “hotspot” areas? Hiring extra adults would mean paying out more money on already tight school budgets. Talk to the students from kindergarten to 12th grade. What would they say about these “hotspot” places?

 

Some schools have installed video cameras in the hallways or hired police officers while other schools have monitors who periodically check the hallways. Hallways and stairwells are the most common places for school bullying according to the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics. Visit www.nces.ed.gov.

 

Visit www.herointhehallway.com and peruse the hero patrol at school where “Kids have the power to protect each other in school and can be taught what to do!” While it is important to empower children, the responsibility of protecting students is the job of school staff, parents, and adults.

 

Bathrooms

 

Verbal bullying by girls often happens in school bathrooms. Do schools of the future need multiple individual bathrooms located near the front office?

 

APA recommends that students, “Whenever possible, avoid situations where there are no other students or teachers. Try to go to the bathroom with a friend.” Visit www.apa.org.

 

Buses and Parking Lots

Find information on training for school bus drivers regarding bullying intervention and prevention at the School Bus Safety website. Visit www.nasdpts.org/Operations/Drivers.html.

 

Would a volunteer program of adult bus monitors help? Would moms and dads who are homemakers volunteer to be bus monitors?

 

Playground

 

More than 300 schools in 23 cities in the United States utilize a managed-recess approach by providing Playworks coaches on playgrounds. Could retired grandparents be trained as volunteer playground monitors? Overseers could offer several playground activities and allow children to choose what to play. It is a sad when a child stands alone day after day and watches silently as other children play, laugh, and have fun. Purposeful exclusive is a form of bullying.

 

A School Counselor for every School

 

“Currently, there is no mandate for school counselors and we recommend legislation that would mandate K-12 school counseling and implement ratios to ensure access to adequate school counseling services,” according to Shawn Grime, the past president of the Ohio School Counselor Association. What about a school counselor for every elementary school? The school counselor could monitor recesses, teach social skills to children on the playground, and intervene in bullying situations.

 

What can Local Police do?

 

The South Euclid Ohio Police Department is hosting the Officer Phil Program at elementary schools. Using magic tricks, games and props, children learn how to prevent bullying and respect each other. Visit www.officerphil.com.

 

What can Students do?

 

Students at Steele High School, Amherst, Ohio, created an 18-minute video on bullying. It is available at www.links.ohioschoolboards.org/23972.

 

Educators, parents, and students can read the 2012 electronic version of the Journal of the Ohio School Boards which has several articles on bullying in Ohio schools.

 

It does take a community to provide bullying prevention and intervention to ensure the safety of our most innocent citizens, our children.

Dr. Missy, Ph.D., is a feelings helper, child therapist, play therapist, and child trauma therapist. She provides therapeutic services at Affirmations, Columbus, Ohio.

 

 

 

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